Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Write Gift


The habit of writing for my eye only is good practice -- it loosens the ligaments. ~Virginia Woolf




I was reading Sea Kettle Diaries this morning and came across pictures of Kerrie's journal.  You'll be blessed if you read her blog and see her creativity.  I can assure you my journal isn't this beautiful.   I do think I am going to add more than words to my journal this coming year.  Words come so easy for me.  In fact, embarrassing as it is to admit this, I write journal entries in my head all day long. While sitting in The Partridge and the Pear restaurant in Gatlinburg, listening to the easy laughter of Emily and her best friends, I wrote an entry on laughter of the purest sense...how only girls who love each other unconditionally and want the best for each other (even if that best takes them out of local Panera and Starbucks run range), can laugh without reservation.  Just as I was enjoying their joy, I thought that God must be looking down on that round table, smiling at our laughter as we visited together.

One random mind journal might not qualify me for the title "crazy," but I find myself doing this all day long.  Monday evening, while enjoying Melanie's birthday meal around our table, all the kids wanted to thank God for the food.  I smiled when Morgan raced through her part.  Then with deliberate and slow pace Landon prayed, "Dod is great, Dod is dood..."  and off my mind went with a celebration of the differences of my grandchildren and how God must love that we all worship in personal ways.  Honestly, I had to concentrate to put my mind's pen down.

That might be a bit extreme, but  I still believe in  the journaling process and its benefits.  Several years ago I wrote an article for Christian Parenting Today titled, "Just Write," encouraging parents to teach their children to journal at a young age. If anything, I am even more passionate about this topic than I was when I wrote the article. Journal writing can strengthen a child's self-esteem, foster an alertness to their activities and provide a creative outlet.

Here are 5 hints to help begin the journalling process with your child.

1. Plan a time for journaling. Melanie and Emily were more eager to journal when I was writing, too. When they hear you say, "I want to remember to journal that," they likely will be eager to record their daily happenings, too.

2. Provide journaling tools--cute notebook or journal, cool pencil to use only when journaling. I like the idea of erasable colored pencils for young people. The colors make it more interesting. You can also take the child shopping to choose their own journal and pencils.

3. Allow your younger children to tell you what they wish to record. They can find a magazine picture that correspond to their words. Melanie and I did this when we went to the zoo. She was too young to write the words, but she told me what she did and found pictures to glue to the pages.

4. Keep journal time fun. Words will be misspelled and the printing sloppy at times. Ignore it. Perfection is not the goal--becoming passionate about journal writing and expressing their daily emotions are.

5. A picture is worth a 1,000 words. If your child wants to draw a picture, allow them. The purpose is to preserve a part of their life.

Let me know if you have ideas about the journaling process--either yourself or with your child. Someday the next generation will hold the memories of your past--and perhaps in reading of your hopes and dream or reading the recorded ways God was with you, will be inspired to find a few of their own.


Gift Idea:  Journal in a Jar

Start with colored paper and fancy edged scissors.


Cut as many strips 1" wide as you wish.
Write a prompt on each one. (Suggestions below)
Curl on a pencil and put them in a jar, box or other container.
(I used a plastic goblet with bright stripes around it.)



Wrap some cellophane around it and tie with some ribbons.
Tie a fun pen in the ribbons.



 Add a journal if you wish.



Make sure the journal lays out flat: the pages should be sewn or spiral bound.


And gift it to a young friend.   


Some writing prompts:

The best thing that happened today was...
The worst thing that happened today was...
The Bible...
I smiled today because... 
I cried today because...
Today I talked to...
Dear God...
Did you know that... 
I get scared when... 
I wish I could... 
My favorite book is...
My favorite subject is...
I don't like to...
My brother is...
My sister is...
If I were President I would...
My favorite song is...
I wish...
If I could be anybody...
I would like to invent...
My favorite Bible verse is...
When Mom says yes...
When Dad says no...
Pickles
I like to play... 
I enjoy...
In the winter I...
In the summer I...
If I had a pet...
I am thankful for...
My favorite holiday is...
If I had a magic wand...
My favorite toy is... 
I like to eat... 
My favorite resturaunt is... 
If my dad was king...
If I was Noah...

 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gifted Hands, Grateful Hearts


Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful!




One word to describe my husband would be giving. Just like my Granddad, Shawn's occupation is not one of being a pastor, song evangelist, Sunday School Teacher, etc., so he is quickly categorized as a layman.  My mom always told me we needed both types of people in the body of Christ -- those who told others about God and those who were able to help support the needs of the church to help the Gospel reach the ones we call others.

Shawn's business requires all sorts of gadgets/ tools/
vehicles.  His friends are quite aware of this, so it's common for them to request to borrow things.  (He also relies on others for some of the items he doesn't have, so it works both ways.)

A couple months ago, Shawn hadn't been feeling well and had never made it to our woods to cut wood for our wood stove. Imagine Shawn's surprise when he came home from a hunting trip to find a huge (and I mean huge) stack of wood ready to be used! DeWayne, who has been able to chop and use some of "our" wood (it's obvious from the wooded area behind our home that we have plenty!) wanted to say "Thanks" by lending of his time, energy and knowledge of wood cutting. He also recruited the help of his brother-in-law, Steve, and his two boys.






      Wow! My husband was overwhelmed. Such a gift couldn't have come at a better time. We save so much money by using a wood stove and Shawn hadn't had time, well, I already told you how wonderful this was for our family.

In responding to them with a letter of thanks, I tried to express appreciation from the whole Clemens Clan. These men/boys had preformed this huge task of random (specific!) kindness for my husband, but when there's a husband....there's a wife...and probably  kids(!) -- so we all were on the receiving end!

Cocoa Party


And since the "weather outside is frightful," thanks to friends who lent a hand, "our fire is so delightful," and we can truly say, "...let is snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

We Have Winners!

Winner of the $20.00 Gift Card


Winner of Christmas Cookies are for Giving


Winner of The Christmas Kitchen

Kay

If I don't hear from these before noon on Thursday I will choose another winner.




Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Gift of a Smile


Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.  ~Mother Teresa




What a difference a smile makes!  Once when I was at a Writers' Convention in Orlando, Florida, I found myself just wandering around with a joyful smile on my face.  I mean, come on, in three days I had 68 new books all signed by the authors.  For this joy I only had to work two hours at my publisher's display and have a meal with my editor at the Ritz Carlton.  Like that was a problem.  It was the most delightful three days ever experienced in my career.  I was able to speak with Frank Peretti, meet Karen O'Connor who was my first writing instructor, and hear Beth Moore. So the day before I left, I was wearing my joyful smile and two women from the Group Publishing Company stopped me.  "You have the most peaceful smile," one of them commented.  Oh, that smile was easy -- I didn't even have to work at it.

It's harder to smile when the store is out of the bargain they promoted, when your pain level hits seven and it's seventeen degrees and your van needs gas. That's when the test comes.  Can you smile when your surroundings are less conducive for joy?

There are some people who can just make you feel better with their smile.  My pastor's wife and friend is that kind of woman.  I used to live in a parsonage and I know that smiles aren't handed out at the door.  Deaths, disappointment, pressures...lots of things that don't exactly fit the smile worthy category.  Yet she meets us all with her beautiful smile and instantly you are encouraged, cheered and loved.  I've been in stores with her -- restaurants, conventions and church settings.  She willingly bestows her beautiful smile.

This time of year we all need to use our smile.  Store cashiers, waitresses and other shoppers -- they are all tired and, might I say, grouchy.   RB is an absolute winner at this.  He can encourage and cheer a frazzled sales clerk while paying for transmission fluid.  He gives waiters and waitresses a spring in their step by asking about their day.  It's called caring...caring with a smile.  Let's give our smile as a gift this Christmas season.  Not only will your smile have an extra sparkle, you'll find one sparkling back.

A little something to get that smile in shape...

I have a tickle in my brain. 
 And it keeps making the corners of my mouth point toward the heavens. 
~Jeb Dickerson

Smile Starter: Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

I'm taking this cheese ball tonight to our church fellowship.  Emily's sweet friend Kayla requested it.  So I decided to make her one to take home.  Just a tiny one...just to let her know how special she is to us. 

Kayla and Emily
Gatlinburg 2010
I've got dreams in hidden places,
And extra smiles for when I'm blue.
1 pkg. cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBS brown sugar
3/4 c powdered sugar
3/4 c mini chocolate chips


Mix it all toghther.
Roll in nuts or mini chocolate chips.
Serve with graham crackers.

 




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